Three straight national championships and 10 players returning from the most recent championship team make it clear that Shattuck-St. Mary’s School is a team with which to be reckoned at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 16U National Championships, which begin March 31 in Blaine, Minnesota.
But coach Pete Johnson knows all too well how difficult those titles were to win, and another is hardly a given.
“We expect to have success and play well,” Johnson said. “But, when you come down to winning championships, it can go either way.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a Faribault, Minnesota-based boarding school, has two of the four Minnesota District teams that have secured berths in girls’ nationals prior to the awarding of at-large berths. Shattuck joins Minnesota Elite Grey after each advanced through the semifinals of the Minnesota District Tournament in October. Minnesota Elite Black and Shattuck did the same on the 19U level.
Once at nationals, Shattuck can expect a series of tight games.
Johnson, who is in his fifth season, lost his first elimination game at nationals in 2012.
“My first year, I learned pretty quick,” Johnson said. “We were down 2-0, came back, and all of a sudden ran out of time and it ended in the quarterfinals.”
Shattuck played from behind deep into the third period in two of the last three national championship games.
“When you look back, most years, either the semifinal or the quarterfinal, one of them has gone into overtime,” Johnson said. “It’s just a matter of a one-goal game.
“We’ve been fortunate the last few years where we’ve scored that overtime goal or we’ve scored a couple quick goals in the championship. There’s some good competition out there.”
The Chicago Young Americans, who are 2-2-1 against Shattuck this season, scored 2:05 into last year’s final. CYA held that 1-0 lead into the third period when Natalie Buchbinder, one of this year’s returnees, scored the tying goal on the way to a 3-1 win.
Shattuck brings a 44-10-4 record into March and its last four games before nationals.
Buchbinder, Givanna Fogila, Gracie Ostertag and Ally Simpson are back on defense.
“Our goaltending and defense is probably stronger than last year,” Johnson said. “Offensively, maybe, we’re a notch below, but we’re pretty similar. Our top two lines score a lot of our goals.”
Rebecca Foggia, Emma Kee, Currie Putrah, Avery Dunn, Maggie Connors and Lindsey Trotter are back at forward.
Foggia, from Rumson, New Jersey, leads the team with 33 goals and 60 points.
Connors, Makenna Webster and Grace Lee all have at least 55 points.
While those 10 try to defend the 16U title, eight other players will try to add a 19U title to their 16U success as members of this year’s Shattuck prep team.
The prep team rolled into March with a 44-7-3 record against a demanding schedule.
Defenseman Britt Mingoia and forward Gisele Cazaudumec are on the prep team after playing on three straight 16U national championship teams at the school.
Valerie Turgeon, daughter of former National Hockey League all-star Pierre Turgeon, is on the prep team after scoring the game-winning goal with 2:36 left in last year’s national final.
Goalie Aerin Frankel, forwards Maddie Mills, Clair DeGeorge and Maureen Murphy and defenseman Megan Ryan are also trying to win national gold at a new level.
Mills leads the prep team with 32 goals and 56 points.
Patti Marshall, the team’s top scorer on defense, was captain of the USA team that won a gold medal at the IIHF 18U Women’s World Championships. Alex Woken and Makayla Langei from the prep team and Ostertag, from the 16U team, were also on that squad.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.